A lesson in democracy for Mrs Merkel (and her merry Merkelites around the Eurozone) by Alexis Tsipras, SYRIZA’s leader






Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece’s largest political party (SYRIZA), and the European Left’s candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission, has just given Mrs Merkel (and her merry disciples around the Eurozone) an important lesson in democracy.

In an official statement just issued (and reported by Euronews and Euroactiv) Tsipras argued that Mr J.C. Juncker, his conservative opponent (against whom he run for the said post), should be nominated by the heads of government to the European Parliament out of respect for democratic process. Tsipras felt he had to defend this basic democratic principle after Mrs Merkel declared that the heads of government (i.e. her good self) were not limited to the five candidates that actually presented themselves to European voters, debated in front of them, and sought their votes. Tsipras’ statement is an indictment of a European establishment that believes it has the divine right first to con Europe’s voters into thinking that they are going to the polls to select one of five candidates for the post of President of the European Commission and, then, to choose at will someone who never sought the popular vote. It is also a useful reminder of the fact that SYRIZA is a democratic, pro-European force that the global press can only portray as extremist and anti-EU at its own peril.

Here is Alexis Tsipras’ statement on the matter

Statement of Alexis Tsipras, Leader of the Opposition and the European Left candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission

According to European law, the European Parliament has the right to approve, and therefore the right to disapprove, the nominee presented to it for the Presidency of the European Commission by the Heads of State.

During the recent campaign, the electors of Europe were asked to express their choice among five candidates, each of them selected by the major European parties.  As candidates we campaigned, debated, and sought the votes of European citizens.

  • It is my position that the Council of Heads of State should not nominate any candidate for the Presidency of the Commission, who did not compete in this election.
  • It is my position that the European Parliament should not approve any candidate who did not compete in this election.
  • The presentation of any other nominee would have as its effect to discredit the entire recent election, turning it, after the fact, into a charade.
  • This is a basic democratic principle.  It is a moral obligation of the heads of government to put forward the candidate who secured the leading position in the European election.

During the campaign, I stood as the candidate of the European Left.  I stood in vigorous disagreement with the policies of the European People’s Party and of their candidate, Mr. Juncker.  Those disagreements stand, and they will stand.

Mr. Juncker’s party nevertheless won the election, and I have called him to offer my congratulations.

I therefore call on the Council of Heads of State to recommend Mr. Juncker to the Parliament, for the Presidency of the Commission.  

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  • What’s the point? So emetic Merkel and Tsipras agree on Junker? Because she just declared that she would support Junker too. Why is this a lesson in democracy?

    This more like a lesson in obedience under the EU tyranny. This is a variation of the “there is no other alternative” mantra.

    • Come, come Dean. You know better than that. You must have heard of Voltaire. Alexis loathes Yuncker. But he respects the principles of democracy. He accepted the election result that gave Yuncker a majority, and his own defeat. Merkel did not. She stated clearly that she was not bound by Yuncker’s win and that she wanted to appoint someone else. Tsipras’ statement made it impossible for Merkel to denigrate this basic democratic principle. To call Merkel and Tsipras ’emetic’ and to conflate their positions is inexcusable. If you want to say that you dislike Tsipras, say it. Your comment was demeaning. Not to Tsipras but to your good self.

    • I said Emetic Merkel because she induces vomiting in me.

      Tsipras I don’t dislike but I don’t hold him as high as you either. There is a lot of work that Tsipras need to undergo to become “somebody” in European affairs.

    • The name is Juncker, not Yuncker, Yani – or should I say “Jani”?

    • Dean,
      Now be nice. Merkel will be the chancellor for the next 5 years. Nothing we can do about it and it is mostly up to the heads of the other states to steer policy in the right direction and towards improving the tremendous imbalances in Europe today. Right now other than the UK it seems that most heads of state are playing along and people like Berlusconi that could make a difference are sidelined. People like Tsipras first have to resolve their own conflicted and calcified philosophy before even starting to make a difference.

      In the meantime Dean, Greece can do more things to improve like stop giving out select parcels of land to the only bidders. Selling out your country without even making an effort to have a minimum of 3 bids is traitorous and fundamentally corrupt.

    • Κωνσταντίνος on May 31, 2014 at 01:40 said:

      “…and people like Berlusconi that could make a difference are sidelined”

      Wait – what? Berlusconi? How could he make a difference? Please explain.

  • Already, Tsipras has established his credentials as a stronger proponent of democratic principle than European heads of government. It is a public humiliation for the Germans and others.

    • Merkel is the chancellor of Germany, but she is not “the Germans”. You have to try and get over this kind of tribal thinking.

    • @Michael
      In this context, I am sorry to tell you, the German people by default are represented by their Chancellor. That is how the EU is structured. Of course, the Germans have the ability to protest to their Chancellor, as they did, in order to pressure her to correct her error. This does not alter the fact that it was a humiliation for the German people that their head of government openly opposed a democratic outcome of European politics. It has the same rank smell as the German handling of the eurozone problems.

      I can also admit that it was a humiliation for my country that its head of government, Cameron, tried to undermine the democratic process. But we all know that this guy is a useless fake from a rich background and is not fit to clean public toilets, let alone run a government. Have you reached that conclusion about Merkel? I did not observe such in the last national elections.

    • “In this context, I am sorry to tell you, the German people by default are represented by their Chancellor.”

      Yes, that’s how that works. She holds an office, but that still doesn’t make her “the Germans”. Besides the fact that enough Germans voted for her to keep her in office, but far from all of “the Germans”. She was elected to be chancellor and she has a job to do, but that job is not being “the Germans”.

      “Of course, the Germans have the ability to protest to their Chancellor, as they did, in order to pressure her to correct her error.”

      There you go! See, that’s how that works. Nobody expects her to be infallible and/or beyond criticism. She screws up, she hears back from those who think she screwed up.

      “This does not alter the fact that it was a humiliation for the German people that their head of government openly opposed a democratic outcome of European politics.”

      I didn’t see it that way. I saw it as “I think she screwed up there”. I didn’t feel “humiliated” because she made a mistake, or something I see as a mistake.

      “Have you reached that conclusion about Merkel? I did not observe such in the last national elections.”

      No, I haven’t reached the conclusion that Merkel is a “useless fake from a rich background”. She isn’t. She comes from a pretty humble background. Nor do I think she is “not fit to clean public toilets”. She is very smart – that doesn’t mean that I agree with all the decisions and statements she makes. I don’t think I have to. But I think she is doing at least a respectable job in very complicated times. That’s why I voted for her in the last elections rather than that clown Steinbrück – even though I come from a more left-leaning background myself. But I am far beyond left/right politics and ideologies, just as I am far beyond that tribal thinking in which I have to identify or be identified with everything the person who is currently running the government does. I think we live in post-political and post-ideological times really.

    • @Xenos

      I don’t think that Ms Merkel would be fit to clean public toilets either. She is a career politician who came up through the ranks of the GDR’s ruling socialist party and propably never had to do any kind of manual labour in her life.
      When the iron curtain fell, she obviously realized that she had been backing the wrong horse, magically turned herself from a lowly party secretary for agitation and propaganda into a christian conservative, quickly became Mr Kohl’s favourite ‘Mädchen’ (his ‘little girl’, as he used to call her) and soon after a minister in his cabinet.
      Ever since then she has proven time and again that her supposed ‘conviction’ is as flexible as her understanding of economics is rigid.

      Her very recent change of heart concerning the head of the EU comission is just another example of her ability to bend to what she percieves as public opinion only if absolutely necessary in order to maintain her reputation as the stern but loving mother of the german people. It has nothing to do with her respecting the voter’s choice.
      After all, during the election campaign it was neither Mr Juncker’s face nor that of the german top candidate of her party, Mr McAllister, that were pinned to every other lamppost in the country. It was her own sad mugshot grinning down on us and it was her that the majority of the 48% of germans who even bothered to participate in this display of mock democracy gave their votes to.
      And as Mr Schaffer and others of my countrymen posting on this forum have proven many times, the germans are a lost cause for all who still hope for a more democratic or even more socially responsible European Union. My people have been voting for parties that exclusively represent the interests of those responsible for the crisis, expecting them to solve it, for almost two decades now. They still haven’t realized their error yet, as the election results have proved once again, and they most propably never will.

      By the way, the collective effort of the german media has been going out of their way to defame Syriza as an anti-European party in every report prior to the elections, putting them right next to the german AfD, Le Front National, UKIP and any other group of Euro-abolitionists or nationalists worth mentioning. The european left was never mentioned by the media as a viable option for german voters during the campaign and the whole thing was presented as an almost epic struggle of good (Schulz, Juncker, Merkel) against evil (right wing extremists plus Syriza). The former defending the ever so sucessful german ‘business model’ against the forces of nationalism and socialism threatening to steal the gremans’ savings from under their noses. In Germany, there really no longer is an alternative.

    • @Michael
      I see, Making a catatrophic error of judgement is fine for a German chancellor, but when Greek politicians made the serious error of joining the euro, their mistake is unforgiveable and Greeks should pay the price in perpetuity. Not only is this a double standard, but it does not even make sense. It is relatively recently that Germany has entered into political decision-making in Europe, and Germans should be very careful indeed. This massive blunder amounted to a denial of democratic process within a failing European Union. If you are not humiliated by it, then I guess you would be embarrassed by nothing. The question we need to ask, is whether Germany is a suitable country even to be in the EU, let alone trying to impose policy on it.

      Basically, it seems that you cannot understand how serious the situation is. Describing this intent to undermine democratic process as “a mistake” reminds me of those who committed murder or child abuse, who profess regret and also assure us that it “was a mistake”. Some mistakes are too obvious and too fundamentally wrong to be forgiven or forgotten: this is one of them.

    • Please, let’s not get carried away too much here. Merkel made a stupid mistake there, it seems that everyone here agrees about that although, as the more detailed discussion of this between Yanis and Klaus illustrates, it’s not quite that simple either.
      Yet to compare that to the entire process of Greece joining the Euro and everything that happened afterwards that led to the massive Greek meltdown is, frankly, completely nonsensical and blown out of proportion. She blundered, she got a lot of criticism for that but she also corrected her mistake and the only one who will have to carry the consequences of it is herself. And that’s good, that’s the way it should be. Things are far from perfect in the EU but this incident shows that politicians, even the most powerful ones, can’t just do whatever they want. I see that a small, but positive sign.
      Whether or not Greece joining the Euro was a mistake period or whether it was how it was done, with the books cooked by the Greek government from the beginning, and the uncontrolled borrowing and spending that followed, that is a huge discussion in itself but in this context, comparing that very complex process that went on for years and its consequences to Merkel’s blunder which led to nothing except bad press for her is just nonsensical. And nobody says her mistake should be forgiven and forgotten. It won’t.

      But it seems that you want all the mistakes that were made in Greece over many years which led to this epic financial catastrophe just forgiven and forgotten, and that you are desperate for anything that you can use to make that happen, to distract from the realities of the situation overall. It seems that you are also desperate to make this into some kind of terrible collective blunder committed by “the entire German people”. It is that antiquated tribal thinking which is still far too common which is one of the root causes of the problems we have right now.
      As to how much Germany should be involved in the decision making processes, do you think that Germany should just keep paying for others’ mistakes but not have any say? It should be pretty obvious that part of what caused the complete meltdown in Greece was *lack of oversight* from the EU in general or its bigger contributors like Germany in particular. After all, the German economy works much better, why not learn a few tips and tricks from a more successful country?

      Germany as a society has learned a lot from confronting the mistakes of the past which led to the catastrophes of the 20th century through a process of very open education of and constant open discussion of the past, and that led to a lot of improvements in the political system and political consciousness, and also the way the economy works.
      Unfortunately, most other countries have never done that kind of collective homework. And you know what happens if you don’t learn from history, it has that habit of repeating itself. And so we have that paradox situation that we see history repeating itself but people are blind to what is going on and instead just keep pointing at Germany as the default villain because of the past. And that is exactly why we have this big mess now.
      That is exactly what you can see in Greece where you had people rioting in the streets and running around with posters of Merkel in Nazi uniforms. History can not get any more paradox and ironic than that.

      You seem a little obsessed with the whole “that was a big humiliation for Germany” thing even though I thought I explained my attitude toward that. You keep saying stuff like “If you are not humiliated by it, then I guess you would be embarrassed by nothing”. I will tell you what I am embarrassed about – my own personal mistakes. Not mistakes made by people who just happen to be from the same country I am. Just like I am not “proud” of the many outstanding positive achievements of other Germans in history in the arts and sciences – none of them are my personal achievement, I just happen to have been born in the same country as them.

      You really should try to get over this kind of tribal thinking which is all to obvious by how hungry, no, not hungry – desperate you are to see all Germans “humiliated” for Merkel’s mistake. It is exactly that tribal thinking which is the root of many problems we have and it is also that which obfuscates the real causes of the problems.

      Sorry for the long post! It’s not easy to disentangle these things when so many people are so deeply entangled in them…

    • @Michael
      Merkel did not “correct her mistake” at all. She was forced by German and international opinion to backtrack. That is very different indeed.

      The Greeks are in this mess largely because of the French and German politicians who chose to create a eurozone system that was different from the expert recommendations. It was deliberately done so in the interests of French ideas about empire and in the interests of German exports and a lower currency. The Greeks were also foolish enough to want to join the euro club, but they made the mistake of trusting the expertise of northern Europe. To say that there is no comparison with the recent mess with appointment of the president of the commission is actually refusing to learn from past mistakes. There is a common pattern here.

      As far as tribes are concerned, I am not part of the Greek tribe and am very intolerant of Greek and other nationalisms. This does not alter the clear fact that Europe is currently organised into nation states, and the German government has prioritised the interests of Germany over the rest of Europe. If you do not like tribalism, then I suggest you campaign in germany to find politicians who share your views. Because Frau Merkel clearly does not, and she was re-elected BY THE GERMAN PEOPLE to impose her German tribalism on the rest of us.

  • Very positive statement indeed. It echos the declarations of all five candidates at the end of the third debate. It is a very commentable initiative by Alexis Tsipras after the results.

  • This is a minor issue. These elections are anti democratic. As long as one man´s vote is 12 times more worth than anothers it is a farce!

    • You lost me. Explain how one man’s vote is 12 times more worth than others?

    • This is the ranting of an imbecile. The different consituencies are designed to allow greater representation per capita of small countries, in order that their interests are adequately represented in the context of very large numbers of delegates from large countries. This is the same principle as minority representation at the national level — which is never per capita. Of course, these adjustments are the result of development of democratic systems over a century or more, and are hated by neoliberals and the hard right.

    • Of course you are right, one man one vote is the basic principle of democracy. No surprise that antidemocrats who profit from deviatons from this rule see it differently.

    • @VSS
      Predictably, with your neoliberal thinking you oppose “over-representation” of minorities. Just as you oppose any subsidies, transfers or anything else that is not crude supply and demand in a free market.

      Just to be clear: the EU system retains the one person, one vote principle. The difference is that the representatives from smaller countries have smaller constituencies and therefore fewer voters electing them. So your claim of antidemocracy is based on a fraudulent premise.

    • The argument of underrepresentation of smaller countries could be only used (and still be wrong) in the case of a loose coorperation of sovereign national states. The federalists cannot use this argument.

    • @soundmoney
      You reveal your lack of knowledge about how the world works. All federal systems [along with countries] with very mixed communities of different sizes over-represent their minorities, in order that they are adequately represented. This is the idea of a real democracy — not abuse of power by the majority, but a consensus reached with as many as possible included.

      Incidentally, this is the primary reason that Cyprus fell apart in the 1950s. The system which required an over=representation of the Muslim minority was hated by the Greek majority, despite being a constitutional requirement. So they conspired to make sure that Muslims did not take appointments in the state, in proportionate numbers. The result of this was catastrophic. We can expect the same if we followed your advice for the EU — but then, that is your intention of course, to damage the EU rather than improve it.

    • No I do not want to damae the EU. I want it to go where it belongs: In the dustbin of history.

  • My comment is biased because I have a very negative prejudice against Juncker. For a number of reasons, I feel that he is not at all a good candidate for President of the EU Commission and that having him in that position will backfire over time. At the same time, I agree that it is terrible optics for conservative party leaders to endorse Juncker only to back-track on that after the election. But is it defrauding voters?

    I really don’t know why this election has been portrayed as an election of the next EU President. It wasn’t that. Instead, it was an election to the EU Parliament. Juncker did not campaign for the EU Parliament; he was not a candidate on any list of his country’s parties (neither was Tsipras, actually). Schulz, on the other hand, was on the German SPD list, ranked No. 1 there. That was proper. To make it worse: Juncker, in an election campaign for the EU Parliament, had made it clear from the start that he would not serve in that Parliament. Using an EU parliamentary election only as a jumping board for another job is not my idea of an honest, democratic method. In fact, that is what one could call defrauding voters. The more honest way for Juncker would have been to campaign for the European Council’s qualified majority candidate.

    My understanding of the treaty is that it is the European Council (and NOT the EU Parliament) which elects the EU President with a qualified majority, ‘taking into account the latest elections to the EU Parliament’. That is what the European Council now has to do. If they don’t take into account the results of the election, they face the risk that the EU Parliament will veto whomever they elect. Thus, the democratic process is ascertained by the parliament’s veto power. If the EU Parliament is worth its salt, it will veto any candidate elected by a qualified majority of the European Council whose name is not Jean-Claude Juncker (or Martin Schulz as an alternative). Then no one could complain about democracy having been sacrificed while treaties would have been properly complied with.

    • Dear Klaus, As you can imagine I am not a great supporter of Juncker. But I am a democrat and, thus, extremely pleased that we managed to push the Chancellor into a position of having to accept a simple principle: that the EC President must seek the vote of Europe’s peoples, must debate in front of their eyes prior to his or her election, and that the EU Council of Heads of State must abide by that vote. I dislike Juncker. But I think that his elevation to the Presidency of the EC, against Mrs Merkel’s preference, establishes a precedent: that you cannot con all of Europeans by a fake election and then appoint your own stooge. And I am proud of Alexis Tsipras for having argued this point, and supported Juncker’s nomination, event though he stood against Juncker and opposes all of his inane policies.

    • Yanis, I, too, would argue that the EU President should be elected directly by popular vote except — that’s not what the treaties call for. Again, the European Council cannot appoint its own stooge. It can try but it can only get away with that if the EU Parliament, elected by the people, condones it. And a parliment is not elected for condoning.

      One example: the Austrian President has the constitutional right/responsibility to appoint the government. He can appoint any government he choses. The constitution does not require him ‘to take into account the latest election results’. He could appoint a stooge government. He always appoints the government recommended to him by the parties which have formed a majority coalition after the election. Why? Because if he didn’t, his own stooge government would fail a vote of confidence the next day.

      Why wouldn’t the same logic apply to the EU Presidency? My understanding is that Juncker has the majority of the EU Parliment behind him. So, how could the European Council get someone other than Juncker through? They could try but, as I said, if the parliament is worth its salt, they will fail.

      BTW, you have not commented on the democratic virtues of Juncker having used a parliamentary election only and exclusively as a jumping board for a job outside parliament. Alone because of that, I think the EU Parliament should have backed Schulz instead of Juncker.

    • I am the last person on this planet to defend Juncker, Schultz or any of these intellectual/political dwarfs. My simple thought is that these five people, whatever one might think of them, fronted up to the European voters (having secured the main political parties’s endorsement) and sought the votes of the European public. The candidate with the largest MEPs behind her/him should get nominated. Full stop. If he/she does not garner enough votes, then the second placed should be given a chance. And so on. Alas, Mrs Merkel wanted to contest that principle. And, in the end, faced with a great deal of flak, folded. A great victory for democracy, I say. Even though we end up with awful Juncker as the President of the EC. (Don’t you think that Tsipras should be commended for backing this democratic principle?)

    • Klaus:

      As usual, you appear to play “dumb” here just to irritate us.

      Both Juncker and Schulz are extreme federalists and up E. Merkel’s you know what.

      So both are unacceptable on the basis of core ideology.

      The message of these elections was to reform the EU. Therefore the proper candidate should be a reformist.

      How about Tsipras here who happens to be o.k. by Yanis? Could you bring yourself into voting for change or rather playing pretend democrat on blogs is your upper limit?

    • Ooops, I see that my bias and aversion against Juncker have moved me in the corner of anti-democrats. That is certainly not my intention. I do think, however, that a person who runs for parliament but states at the outset that he will not work in parliament is defrauding the voters. And a person who starts out by defending Eurobonds but changes his mind when it come to soliciting Merkel’s support is simply fooling voters and making a joke of the democratic process.

      Yes, I commend Tsipras just like I commend the ARD’s Brussels correspondent who was called upon to give the evening commentary on this public broadcaster. Rolf-Dieter Krause said that he had never experienced before sitting a few feet across from Merkel and watching her “implementing a fraud. Not a fraud in criminal terms but, instead, in political terms. A fraud against the voters”. That really takes courage for an employee of a public broadcaster and must be commended.


      But still: there is such a thing as constitutional rights and the attempt to use constitutional rights to support political interests is also a pillar of democracy, be it Merkel, Cameron or whoever that uses such constitutional rights. If they fail due to a veto in parliament, they have the egg over their faces which they deserve.

    • Klaus, as long as THE fundamental democratic principle of one man one vote is not implemented in the EU, the whole thing is a fraud, no matter what members of the so called ‘elites’ say or do.

    • I have come across the below article which, despite being influenced by the same anti-Juncker bias which I have, also points out – rightly in my opinion – that the current election of EU President is more than ‘democracy at play’. It is a powerplay made possible by treaties which did not assure a sufficent separation of powers. One quote:

      “The EU treaties are clear: when the European Council chooses the Commission president, it should take into account the European elections; MEPs then have to approve that choice. This means that the president probably has to come from the party – or group of parties – that can muster the largest number of MEPs. The treaties, however, say nothing about Spitzenkandidaten (designated candidates). European leaders should not indulge the Parliament by tolerating its attempted power-grab”.

      One may like such a view of a parliament, or not. The point is: this type of parliament was created by treaties.


    • I take all this. But, there is a large ‘but’! When Mrs Merkel and the rest of Europe’s heads of government sat idly by while Eurovision was holding debates between the candidates put forward by the major EU parties for the Presidency of the EC, they were tacitly signalling to European voters that these five candidates were vying for the vote for the Presidency of the EC. If the heads of government, including Mrs Merkel who had endorsed Yuncker, felt that the popular vote did not limit their/her choices, she should have objected to the debates. Indeed, Mr Schultz, in that final debate, ended his speech by saying that no one who had not participated in it could or should ever be nominated for the post. No one contradicted him. Thus, a titanic battle for the principle that the Presidency of the EC should be decided by the voters prior to an EP election has commenced. Democrats should weigh in on this, in full cognition of the fact that this is how democracy is won: By gradually pushing back the legalisms whose purpose is to impede demos power.

    • Yanis, I agree with your assessment. Yes, it is somewhat reckless to allow the perception to take roots that the vote might count, only to turn around and quote treaties after the fact. Technically, the parliament should have the longer end of the stick because they could, as far as I know, veto any candidate until it is the one they want. In reality, I think we will find that there is not much of a separation of powers.

  • Dean Plassaras on May 30, 2014 at 20:41 said:
    “I said Emetic Merkel because she induces vomiting in me.”

    You don’t have to like Merkel, Dean, but you should be a little more grateful.

    • How many billions was the German share in the Greek bailout again? I totally lost track of how much it was.

    • The figure is not the issue (even though it is huge). What is the issue is that 97% of it ended up in French and German banks. Put simply: The Greek bailout was not a bailout for Greece. It was a sinister transfer of funds from the European taxpayer (including the poorer German and the poorest Greek ones) to the bankrupt bankers of Paris and Frankfurt. Now, let’s see if you can channel your rage to whom deserves it…

    • Rage? What gives you the idea that I am “enraged”?

      I think the figure and just how big it was is still an issue, although certainly not the only one? So how much was it again? I am sure you have all the numbers at your fingertips.

      Re the evil bankers in France and Germany, that is probably true, but also a different issue. The question remains, just how did a small country with just around 11 million people manage to run up so much debt (how much was it again?)? And also, if there are all those evil banks in France and Germany, how come people in France and Germany didn’t get into so much debt?

    • Herr Schaffer:

      Please understand that every public figure with a toxic record is fair play. Also please understand that victims who are denied justice are entitled to some form of verbal retribution.

      Regarding the cost to Germany, I have heard that the figure is less than 1 Bil. euros in fact a figure closer to 500 Million euros. This minimal cost in return for 120 Bil. of uber profit made by Germany during the 4-5 years of the crisis comprised of increased and abnormal trade (due to lower euro value)+capital fleeing all parts of Europe to Germany for safety with next to zero returns (robbing depositors for pseudo-safety) + the cost of German financing being negative if you factor in inflation (Germany able to borrow at negative rates).

      To summarize it for you, Germany in exchange for 500 Mil. got “money for nothing and chicks for free”. Here is the musical version of the same theme for those of you citizens of Germany having a hard time connecting the dots and stepping over lines of uber reverence for your all powerful statehood (an unfortunate remnant of the Prussian period in your history).


    • Dean – you aren’t making much sense here. I think you got some things totally confused:

      “…for those of you citizens of Germany having a hard time connecting the dots and stepping over lines of uber reverence for your all powerful statehood (an unfortunate remnant of the Prussian period in your history)”

      Where did that come from? I would say from crude nationalist stereotypes you seem to hold. But remember – stereotypes tell you very little about who they are supposedly about, yet they tell you a lot about the people who hold them. In this case, you.
      That certainly has nothing to do with anything I said to you here. You may be referring to what I said to Xenos, but then that still doesn’t make sense:
      I said “Merkel is not the German people”. That is the opposite of “uber reverence for powerful statehood”. Which would be something like “Merkel is the state, the state is the people.”
      But the historical irony that drips from your comment amuses me – and I am pretty sure you aren’t even aware that that is why your country is in such a mess.

      Your numbers game there doesn’t seem to make too much sense either. So you are saying that Germany should be punished for having a strong manufacturing and exporting economy by having to pay off the debts of a country which doesn’t and in which people thought they could just borrow and never pay back horrendous amounts of money? Did I understand that correctly?

    • Dear Michael,
      the allusion by Dean to your reverence of German statehood and indeed of a specific economic structure still stands, no matter whether you support Merkel or not. Actually this is the whole point of reverence of statehood, going back to Prussia. It is a stereotype that for many historians (I pretend to be one) stands, but in its good version, it is called a sort of ‘statist’ libelarism
      And to be honest: you can be as proud as you want. I respect (i think most of the readers of this blog) the model more than you think I do. I love manufacturing, I love Miele and Siemens and al, I wish we had them instead of you (I am a traditional marxist in my definition of capital maybe – allusion here to Picketty and the problems raised by Yianis and others).
      BUT you decided to be a part of a Union. Not me. When you are a part of an economic union a la EU, all the economic structuring changes. And you did not join because you are good Europeans, you joined because it suited you. Even as we speak, German exports in other EU countries is about 60-70%, little lower than before the crisis. You are trying to change that but you have failed. In addition, a large chunk of the money borrowed by Greeks and others come from German banks (I think you can understand that German banks are larger than Greek and that their economic activities are more global, largely European). In short, Greeks and others need money to buy you VW, dishwashers (it is amazing that while I was growing up in the 90s, I did not know what that was, and now there is no place without one), they borrow the money from you and then they buy your products. If you want to sustain that strange contract, you have to do other things than preaching thriftiness, diligence, frugality and industriousness (a very old school of political economy indeed).
      Sorry for saying that to a German, but you need to take responsibility for what you are. That is not say that Greece is excused, but given the sizes you are the ones who need to change or as Soros said get out of the euro because you are harming it. Are you not amazed that after all those years in the crisis, it is ONLY Germany who is doing well and that voted for EU elections as if it was another Sunday out?. Wake up people and take a look across you borders, [email protected] Greece.
      Say hi to your beautiful diligent, hard-working compatriots for me.

    • Michael:

      Are you denying that Germany (as a matter of embedded culture) suffers from an extreme case of uber statism?

      BTW, you saying that I don’t make sense it’s a form of compliment. You see, whatever Germans say we take the opposite to be true (and that’s an uber truism).

    • Dean Plassaras on May 31, 2014 at 14:56 said:

      “BTW, you saying that I don’t make sense it’s a form of compliment. You see, whatever Germans say we take the opposite to be true (and that’s an uber truism).”

      That’s an astonishingly immature attitude, and it reveals some rather troubling very crude stereotypes and prejudices that govern your thinking. With that attitude and the very crude nationalist stereotypes you hold, you can’t even begin to figure out the very complex situation we have at hand now. Hence the very simplistic and populist paroles you broadcast here.

      “Are you denying that Germany (as a matter of embedded culture) suffers from an extreme case of uber statism?”

      Of course. I thought I had already addressed that. That you keep repeating that and now ask me this question betrays an almost complete ignorance of German history and of the political and cultural situation of the present as well. What is deeply embedded in German culture is centuries of federalism, decentralism and great local diversity. For most of its history, Germany wasn’t even one unified state but a somewhat loose federation of many small semi-independent states. Then on top of that, the recent historical experience of no less than five very different political systems within less than one century: the 2nd empire (aka “the Prussian Empire”), the Weimar Republic, the 3rd Empire (“the Nazis), the present Federal Republic and the East German communist regime. All that turmoil is a reflection of how difficult it was to get that whole Germany thing sorted out. And that’s precisely because there never was and there still isn’t what you imagine as that “extreme case of culturally embedded uber statism”.
      The current political landscape has been shaped by all those experiences and by the constant open public discussion of all these historical experiences and it is far more complex and diverse than you will be able to understand, so I have to leave it at that for now.

    • @Schaffer
      You keep reproducing the main German problem dear Michael.All the discussions to which you referred were and are discussions about ‘Germany’ proper, its political form, its culture, its ‘Sonderweg’ etc., not about European Germany, about Germany as a part of a larger project which is Europe. It is as if you are the new ‘French’. At least your neighbours speak increasingly of France in its European context, even if they are becoming largely critical. But it is better than nothing because it betrays a state of mind.
      This is something which you still deny to do (not all Germans of course but those whom you have chosen to rule and which is your problem and deficiency, not ours) and what you basically do is project some kind of moral (protestant like) language to your partners in the project. And this is what you also do, denying to get out of your little Germany frame of mind.
      And you can say a lot about Greeks, but not that they lack a larger (European) frame of mind. As Kundera has said this is the fate of ‘small’ nations – to try to prove themselves to others. But that also makes them less insular.

    • @VSS
      You have twice posted this lie about basic principles of democracy being subverted. Kindly desist. There is a clear rule of one person, one vote.

    • o.k. Michael:

      Since you are asking for a mature conversation, I guess you are entitled to one.

      1. First, let me congratulate you for your invented euro scheme(i.e. new DM) which in essence transferred the costs of German unification unto the backs of European citizens. Very clever but now there is a huge repayment obligation in your national account which we must address urgently. In short: give us back our money and never dream of using “Europa” again for internal German affairs masking as a “european project” of sorts. We are not buying such foolishness again.

      2. Just because you accomplished your reunification the way you did(through your internal economies and stealing from the rest of Europe) it does not mean that the same legalized theft formula could be applied to Greece. Asking the Greeks to be like Germans is uber inappropriate because to simply put it we don’t have a slave mentality and we will never get one(certainly not on your account).

      3. Hoisting German trade (as an example to follow) which basically fuels uber consumerism around the world means nothing to civilized people like us. Not only you are not an example to follow but if we ever wanted to become the consumerism drug pushers (like you so proudly contend to be by selling an extra VW or a toaster somewhere around the globe) we would probably choose the area of human intellect with accomplishments that are ever lasting vs. the ephemeral German materialism.

      4. And most important. Stop confusing your saving the euro (i.e. your only means of survival) with the pseudo-proposition that you somehow saved Greece. You have done nothing of the kind for Greece expect destroy her needlessly and for that you will pay a just and fair price which is going to hurt you beyond imagination.

      5. Stop patronizing your morally and intellectually superiors. You will not be forgiven for your crimes against humanity. Learn to be the obedient servant and no more lectures from you. We have had enough with your overbearing manners and self-assessed contributing value (only in your minds) to the European project. You don’t deserve to be called Europeans. You haven’t earn it.

    • Exactly – and as long as the EU break its own treaties it should go to hell!

    • Dean Plassaras on June 1, 2014 at 17:52 said:

      “o.k. Michael:
      Since you are asking for a mature conversation, I guess you are entitled to one.”

      That would be nice, but I really don’t think you are capable of participating in a mature conversation, even if you try (as you apparently thought you did):

      “Stop patronizing your morally and intellectually superiors. You will not be forgiven for your crimes against humanity. Learn to be the obedient servant and no more lectures from you. We have had enough with your overbearing manners and self-assessed contributing value (only in your minds) to the European project. You don’t deserve to be called Europeans. You haven’t earn it.”

      More than that, Dean. We have *paid* for it. On an epic scale. “Epic” is a good Greek word which is apt for the economic – that another Greek word – catastrophe – yet another one – your country has caused. The sheer scale of it is just staggering. And now you are trying to deny the real causes of the problem with nationalist and racist rants. I don’t see how that makes you “morally and intellectually superior”.
      And what “crimes against humanity” are you talking about? Nazi stuff, again? All that happened long before I and nearly all Germans alive today were even born. Do you believe in “collective guilt” based on the accidents of birth, as well as some people being “superior” because of accidents of birth? That would make you a flaming racist. That was one of the foundations of the Nazi mindset. Since you know so very little about German history, you may not have been aware of that. Well, now you know. So you see, you should be lectured! There is so much about the basics of history that you don’t even know. That old saying, if you don’t know history, it repeats itself, is proving to be true over and over again. You with your nationalist mindset and all your prejudices are a great example for that.

      “…give us back our money…”

      You still haven’t understood that when you borrow a lot of money, it isn’t “your” money. And if you then have others paying it back for you, it still isn’t “your” money either. You can’t just borrow vast amounts of money, not pay them back, then have others pay it back for you, and then demand it “back” on top of that.
      Man, I already understood that when I was about 5 and borrowed 1 DM from my brother to buy a comic book!
      And where was all “your” money supposed to have been taken from in the first place? From what? From your barely existing economy? From the little money you made from tourism (mostly from those evil northern Europeans, ironically), from exporting a little bit of olive oil and feta (both of which I love, BTW – hmmmm!)?

      “Asking the Greeks to be like Germans is uber inappropriate because to simply put it we don’t have a slave mentality and we will never get one”

      Germans don’t have a “slave mentality” at all. German workers overall enjoy very good worker’s rights, plenty of time off, adequate pay and benefits – in return for actually working for all of that, of course. Germany also has a very broad, well educated and affluent middle class. That’s not a “slave mentality”. Just another one of your crude stereotypes.
      And I really don’t like such stereotypes, but since you brought it up, I think Greeks overall have much more of such a “slave mentality” because overall, they haven’t done much to free themselves from being so dependent on money coming in from the outside. That’s why all they can do now is rant and riot.
      The EU and the Euro and all the borrowing that was made possible was a chance to do that. And you blew it – completely. All that money, where did it go? Into improving infrastructure, job training, education, investing into the economy to get returns later? Doesn’t look it did. Otherwise we wouldn’t all have that big problem now.
      Hint: that whole victim thing you are so into, that is the real slave mentality.

      “…we would probably choose the area of human intellect with accomplishments that are ever lasting vs. the ephemeral German materialism”

      What “ever lasting accomplishments”? You mean that there were a bunch of really smart guys in Greece more than 2000 years ago? What does that have to do with now? And I think those early promoters of science, reason and logic would be horrified to see your incoherent rants and nationalist stereotypes here.
      And you really think that just because you happen to have been born in Greece or to a Greek family, that makes you a sage like Aristoteles or Socrates? That’s a pretty bizarre idea!
      Just like I don’t feel responsible for stuff that happened in my country before I was even born, I don’t feel either that I can claim credit for the many groundbreaking accomplishments of German scientists, engineers, musicians, philosophers, literates, artists of the past centuries. Not much of any of that has come out of Greece in the same time period, has it? Oh, and let’s not forget the many German philologist and archaeologists which helped unearth and revive the Greek past while the descendants of the classical Greeks were just sitting in shabby huts in a province of the Ottoman Empire! LOL

    • “1. First, let me congratulate you for your invented euro scheme(i.e. new DM) which in essence transferred the costs of German unification unto the backs of European citizens. ”

      This must be the dumbest Thing I have ever read… But whatever,…..

      Reading this discussion clearly showns that the Euro and the EU bring peace to Europe!!! Without them there will be war!

    • Michael Schaffer:

      I think Heraclitus of Ephesus had in mind a barbarian German (wait I just repeated myself) like you when he wrote around 600 BC:

      Οὐ φρονέουσι τοιαῦτα πολλοὶ ὁκόσοισι ἐγκυρέουσι οὐδὲ μαθόντες γινώσκουσι, ἑωυτοῖσι δὲ δοκέουσι.

      The majority of people have no understanding of the things with which they daily meet, nor, when instructed, do they have any right knowledge of them, although to themselves they seem to have.

  • Dear friends,
    May I suggest that you leave this formidable site for a brief moment to read – and comment on (it’s not too late) – an article in the Economist on May 29, under the title “Greece’s protest parties: Syriza and other radicals”?

    • Sorry Jenny but The Economist is not a serious publication. When you have a columnist there by the pen name “Charlemagne” spewing nonsense 24/7, you know this is a propaganda instrument for German Europe. German Europe is the antithesis of democracy and the arch-enemy of all descent people. German Europe = EUSSR and must be wiped out from the face of this earth once and for all in the name of freedom, equality and fraternity.

    • Sorry Dean to disturb your prejudices with facts, but the Economist authors writing as ‘Charlemagne’ are as anti German as can be. Probably even mor so than you, which says something.

    • Anyone who uses the phrase “EUSSR” clearly knows nothing about either the European Union or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (Unless the EU has set up gulags in Lapland, that is.)

    • No the Gulags are everywhere in the EU.

      And “the Economist authors writing as ‘Charlemagne’ are as anti German as can” is 100% correct.

  • Put simply there is a classic power struggle going on between the EP and the European Council. The Council and heads of government do not want to relinquish any of their powers. Voters are disillusioned with the EU, and it is also correct if the results of the euro elections are rejected by the Council, then the whole election was just a farce, a parody. Voters will cry dishonesty and hypocrisy towards the Council and the whole EU.

    But lets be honest the candidates were not completely open and honest to begin with. Juncker openly stated at the beginning of elections he was more interested in getting a top job in the European Council and was not interested in the EU Com Presidents job. Yes Juncker did technically win with the big EPP votes behind him, but he is a classic euro technocrat and a very poor communicator, he will be terrible as a EU Com President. He will be like another clone Van Rompuy.

    Lastly you state Tsipras and SYRIZA are pro EU?? Oh! is that the reason why all those Greeks voted for Tsipras in the euro elections? I don’t think so. To say SYRIZA and Tsipras is pro EU is really incredulous. Their platform is very anti EU, just listen to his speeches. Greece as to wake up the the fact that many of its problems are inside its own country,not outside, look at the long history of Greek political ‘clientelism; and rampant corruption than as existed within Greece for many, many decades. Tsipras and SYRIZA never want to talk about those domestic issues?

    • Greeks at present are uber confused. We don’t know any better. We are now officially part of an oxymoron phase whereby we consider what is harmful to us to actually be beneficial and vice versa. As such neither Tsipras, Syriza nor the “official Berlin approved government” in Greece have no idea what they are talking about.

      One thing is for certain. Greece must align its national and geopolitical interests with those of the UK, France and others in systematically defeating all German constructs. At minimum, we ought to do precisely the opposite of what Germany wants. In this particular case when E.Merkel says Yuncker, we say “no Yuncker”.

    • How very mature of you, Dean. That is your recipe for getting out of your deep economic mess? Just do the opposite from whatever the evil Germans are saying, take all the money from the bailout and then try to gang up on the evil Germans – and good luck with getting France on your side, you have so much to offer them. What is even funnier than all this is that according to your FB link there, you actually run a consulting company in Athens. Were you among those who consulted Greece into its deep mess? No wonder you try so hard to find a big bogeyman to blame for all that. Well, you must try harder if you really want to contribute to solving these huge problems, not just make populist statements.

  • When do we get to vote in the German elections? Because Ms Merkel is our de facto president, whether she likes it or not, and democracy is overdue.

    • I presume that a similar question was asked about 70 years ago. I also presume that the same answer applies today.

    • So you want to drown your vote on the basis of 6:1 ratio by allowing 60+ Million Germans cancel 10 Mil. Greeks and then call it a democracy?

      I have a better idea for you. Why don’t we kick Germany out of Europe and let them vote on their own particular German nonsense in perpetuity?

      You just gave the store away.

    • We clearly have a de facto president in Ms Merkel and a de jure in whomever she appoints. I want the true president of the EU to be elected by the people.

    • Yo just have to move to Germany and apply for dual citizenship, which the Merkel run government allows. Then you can vote for any German candidate you like. BTW, is dual citizenship also allowed for alien residents in Greece?

    • @VSS

      Why are all of your posts full of shit? No, it is not that simple to get dual citizenship in Germany; it is still restrictive. And yes, dual citizenship has always been allowed in Greece, although it is almost impossible to get Greek citizenship as an allogeneis (different ethnic origin).

    • When do Germans get to vote in greek, Spanish, Irish and PT elections? It is their Money being wasted in these inefficient, countries.

    • Perhaps they should. Either way we need meaningful democracy. If a national head of state evolves into de facto president of the block then the elections that produced that national leader must evolve into European elections. I’ve no problem with Ms Merkel being our first president if we can elect a second one.

      Or national leaders could finally scale back their influence and behave more like mayors, which is all a small country’s leaders can be, and we should have a real electoral campaign for an EU president with real powers. Either way is good.

    • But most people im Europe have a problem with that. They do not want a united states of Europe. They want to be a citizen of their country and not some artificial superstate. Unless the idiots in Brussels start to understand that, it will end like Euroslavia, sorry Yugoslavia or like the USSR.

    • If we have a de facto president, but the people don’t want to vote her in or out of office, the people are gravely misguided.

  • We should all be greatful that Europeans are blessed with such wonderful and powerful leaders ruling from on high at the heart of “New Europe” …I wonder if Orwell would agree with this statement?!?

  • @Hubert Marcks: “Ever since then Merkel has proven time and again that her supposed ‘conviction’ is as flexible as her understanding of economics is rigid. ”

    After all Hubert we shouldn’t forget that Merkel is the Frau “Marktkonforme Demokratie” which says all about her position on democracy and capitalism! Simply put she will sell off democracy for capitalism. Am I surprised about this? No, not at all since she doesn’t have any democratic socialization as she also lacks a European socialization. She grew up in Pommeranzia/GDR.

    “And as Mr Schaffer and others of my countrymen posting on this forum have proven many times, the germans are a lost cause for all who still hope for a more democratic or even more socially responsible European Union. My people have been voting for parties that exclusively represent the interests of those responsible for the crisis, expecting them to solve it, for almost two decades now. They still haven’t realized their error yet, as the election results have proved once again, and they most propably never will.”

    Yes that’s the right conclusion, in Germany we had for the last three years a massive propaganda going on and since most Germans have been heavily biased by these campaigns it is very difficult to change their mind now. The trueth would cause them cognitive dissonance!


    Kognitive Dissonanz motiviert Personen, die entsprechenden Kognitionen miteinander vereinbar zu machen, wobei unterschiedliche Strategien benutzt werden, wie beispielsweise Verhaltensänderungen oder Einstellungsänderungen. Falls nötig, werden die eigenen Überzeugungen und Werte geändert, was über temporäre Rationalisierungen weit hinausgeht

  • To show you how desperate things are in Greece re: democracy and proper representation.

    Greek democracy produced this top candidate for the center left (Elia/Pasok) which is the equivalent of Martin Schultz’s party for Greece. Her name is Eva Kaili, a pretty face and a poster girl but her qualifications for an MEP position are exactly what?


    Now, Ms. Kaili’s background is shown here but what exactly would be her mission in Brussels? what exactly is her area of expertise?


    And of course Ms. Kaili seems to be a cool person on a private level as her music preferences indicate (a kind of jazz personality) but I am asking you again with a certain degree of despair: what exactly made my compatriots send a person like this as the #1 choice in Brussels? To do what exactly for Greece, for her party and for the European voter?

    Now, don’t let me start on some of the other 20 MEPs we are sending to Brussels. It’s really very sad folks. We Greeks don’t understand how to properly use democratic processes to advance causes. We are simply engaged in a mad euro-vain process of “keeping up with the Joneses”. Monkey see, monkey do stuff. There is absolutely no hope for us. We are social people(we like to mix and participate) but completely unintelligent in our political choices. All of them (in case some of you are emboldened to say something). 🙂

    • Dean Plassaras on May 31, 2014 at 16:46 said:

      “We Greeks don’t understand how to properly use democratic processes to advance causes. We are simply engaged in a mad euro-vain process of “keeping up with the Joneses”. Monkey see, monkey do stuff.”

      Yes, Dean. Monkey see, monkey do stuff; monkey see stuff, monkey want stuff; monkey borrow, monkey buy stuff; monkey borrow more, monkey buy more; monkey borrow even more, monkey buy even more; monkey suddenly broke, monkey borrow more; but monkey not save, monkey buy more; then monkey completely broke; monkey get bailout; monkey still not happy, monkey fling feces.

      And populists like you egg monkey on. Then blame others so monkey likes you, instead of telling monkey what the real problem is.

    • Dean,

      The same applies to most of the members elected to the euro parliament with the exception of maybe 3-4. It also applies to most of the members of the Greek parliament some being ex athletes, journalists, actors etc. The parties want to get the votes so they go to names that will bring out the votes.

      The Greek parliament was deep in discussion about the vegetable markets until 2am while at the same time the government was selling off 7,000 acres of a section of the city to the one and only bidder without any consultation or discussion in parliament.

      So Germany is a problem but Greeks have their own issues as well.

    • Dean Plassaras on May 31, 2014 at 16:46 said:

      “And of course Ms. Kaili seems to be a cool person on a private level as her music preferences indicate (a kind of jazz personality) but I am asking you again with a certain degree of despair: what exactly made my compatriots send a person like this as the #1 choice in Brussels? To do what exactly for Greece, for her party and for the European voter?”

      I understand your puzzlement, Dean. There can only be one answer: she must be an undercover German agent.

    • Michael:

      You gave me my comeuppance 🙂 🙂 :). I guess Christian Democrats in Germany could after all engage in something resembling rational thought. Just remember that monkeys tend to be the cleverest of them all.

      However, in order for you to engage in Greek internal affairs you must first educate yourself as to the meaning of the these words by our ancients:

      Αισχρόν έστι σιγάν, της Ελλάδος πάσης αδικουμένης

      Once you understand such then you might consider what sort of damage a flock of dedicated monkeys might inflict on their oppressors. You haven’t seen anything yet. Your house of cards is coming down because you messed with the wrong people(well monkeys that is). We are not going to let up until justice is delivered and that’s a promise you can post at the entrance of the Bundestag and have your parliamentarians repeat every day as the end nears. 🙂

    • Dean Plassaras on June 1, 2014 at 17:14 said:

      “However, in order for you to engage in Greek internal affairs you must first educate yourself as to the meaning of the these words by our ancients:
      Αισχρόν έστι σιγάν, της Ελλάδος πάσης αδικουμένης”

      How very funny of you to quote Demosthenes here in this context, an Athenian politician who stumbled because he embezzled money – which had come to Athens from outsiders. Even funnier since he was one of those who opposed Alexander the Great, one of the few Greek leaders relevant to history, while at the same time, you rant about resurgence of Greek power and influence.
      I would like to congratulate you on your exquisite sense of irony here, but I am pretty sure you had no idea about the background of “these words by our ancients”. Typically, people who are as badly informed about history in general as you are and who see everything just in terms of very crude clichés don’t know much about the history of their own country either.
      “These words by our ancients” – LOL

    • MS:

      Are you talking about the Harpalus case? But accusations are hardly a substitute for the truth. Harpalus declared that he had twice the money that was entrusted to him. Why would Demosthenes be liable for someone over-inflating figures which belonged to Alexander to begin with?

      Κακοὶ μάρτυρες ἀνθρώποισι ὀφθαλμοὶ καὶ ὦτα, βαρβάρους ψυχὰς ἐχόντων.
      Eyes and ears are bad witnesses to men having rude souls.

    • Why are we on the same monetary union again ????
      Why did Greeks keep buying German cars after all that happened in WWII ????
      After all Japanese cars are better and now Tesla is 10 years ahead of everyone inventing the software car – the car with NO GERMAN ENGINE ON IT.

    • @ Κωνσταντίνος

      That’s indeed a good question. Nobody forced the Greeks or anybody else to buy German cars or other German products. So it must have been…. their free will. Which of course means that only they themselves are responsible for their very own decisions.

      BTW, I own two German cars plus Tesla shares. A good mixture.

    • @VSS: “BTW, I own two German cars plus Tesla shares. A good mixture.”

      I fear that in two years from now you will end up just with your d*ck in your hand 🙂

      The Banking crisis is still not over and stupid people like yourself are seeing just smokes and mirrors ie. alleged national debt crises. Sleep on my dear German friends the worst is yet to come!

    • @VSS
      By free will you must of course mean all the “mizes” given my german industry (with the help of course of the german goverment) to greek polititians in order to buy highly over valued german products (Siemens, submarines, Leopards, to name a few).
      But you should know better that this is indeed a “free will”


      Of course it is the free will of the Greek officials to demand a bribe or else there is no business. Hen and egg problem, isn’t it. Besides, we were talking about cars, not submarines. Now please don’t try to tell me the Mercedes, Audi, VW and so on bribed Greek citiens to buy their cars instead of Toyota, Fiat and so on 🙂

    • VSS,
      I on the other side drive a Prius and even with that I marvel at the technology difference between that and the typical Mercedes and BMW mainly on the software end of things.
      Greeks are big on image like the Chinese probably and unlike the Koreans and the Japanese. The euro reinforced this image thing. The Peugeots and the Fiats fell back as German cars were now available to be had in Euros. The Greeks emptied their wallets to buy these (by now obsolete) machines. And Germany came at the tale end of this debacle to empty their pockets further and ensure that they remain empty in perpetuity.

  • “EU leaders have traditionally named the Commission head on their own, but under new rules they now have to “take into account” the results of last Sunday’s European parliamentary elections, though exactly what that means remains unclear.”

    Based on the above statement alone I would say that neither Juncker nor Schulz have the remotest of chances. For unimpressive Schultz in particular let it be known that it takes a hell of a lot more than been an ex-book shopkeeper for one to qualify as the head of a commission that passes laws like they are going out of style tomorrow.

    Expect a big fight which like make Nigel Farage double his figures again.

    • The quality of people appointed to head the Commission has for some time been extremely low. Barroso is probably the worst ever — at a time of economic and political crisis, too. However, the low quality of candidates for the first-ever electoral process for the appointment of president of the Commission is no reason to subvert the democratic process. We did not suggest that Bush Jnr. should be refused appointment as president of the USA – and look what that moron and his corrupt friends did to the USA and the world.

      And what Farage has to do with this is entirely in your own head.

  • Hi Yanis,

    Could you please write something about Cameron’s stand?
    Of course he influenced by the UK elections’ outcome, but let’s face it…
    People here can’t understand why a nation like UK should want more (of this) Europe, in a situation like this… in the middle of a crisis… and with a really bossy Germany.
    I think that Queen of Europe (Merkel’s nickname in UK) is trying to dispel the EU when she comes here and says that “Europe” is not prepared to pay almost any price to keep Britain in the EU, that is to say… no EU reform… no nothing.


    • Merkel is smart. She will wait until the UK leaves the EU and maye a few others and than follow!

  • “That’s why I voted for her [A. Merkel] in the last elections …” I am afraid that should really be a signal (a ‘signaling device’ as the economists call it) to the readers to steer well clear of your contributions.

    • That’s such a funny comment in the context of a discussion entitled “a lesson in democracy”. You don’t like what someone has to say, so you would like him to be silenced and ignored…
      This thread is great, all the funny characters it is bringing out of the woodwork!

    • In addition, you appear to have severe reading comprehension problems. I voiced my opinion regarding your opinion. What’s undemocratic about that? Anyway, as I said previously, one is entitled to one’s choice as to whose opinions one pays attention to.

    • Alas, who doesn’t want to imbibe more pearls of wisdom sprinkled with kindness and magnanimity as the following:

      “That’s an astonishingly immature attitude, and it reveals some rather troubling very crude stereotypes and prejudices that govern your thinking. With that attitude and the very crude nationalist stereotypes you hold, you can’t even begin to figure out the very complex situation we have at hand now. Hence the very simplistic and populist paroles you broadcast here.”

      Do us a favor, Michael, and give it a rest!

  • As recently explained (and supported) by you, Tsipras reserves the Führer like right to place whoever he likes on the promising list places of Syriza. Which is as antidemocratic as can be. So he should better just shut the heck up instead of lecturing others in good democratic habits.

  • @Michael Schaffer thank you for the collective consciousness lesson prompt, it is much needed indeed.

    I especially enjoyed the “tribe” euphemism, it really shows that the German media keep doing their good-ol’ job.

    Germany is NOT immune to any financial crisis. Please do check again Germany’s (and DB) numbers and try to pin-point who to blame without looking for scapegoats.

    And I really hope that you do pay a visit to Greece anytime soon, this way you will put all your stereotypes in your head in good perspective. People here just want to lead as much fulfilling and decent lives as the next “tribe”.

  • High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email [email protected] to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c0fae448-ea38-11e3-8dde-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz33XSEdfo8

    Behind this dispute lies a clash between two rival visions of democracy in Europe. One school, particularly prominent in Germany, sees enhancing the powers of the European Parliament as the only way to make the EU more democratic. The other school – the one I belong to – believes that increasing the powers of the parliament is actually profoundly damaging to democracy.
    Many Germans, with their suspicion of anything that smacks of nationalism, find it hard to acknowledge the connection between democracy and the nation. But it is above all in nations – with their shared ties of language, history and political culture – that democracy can live and breathe. At a European level, you can replicate the forms of democracy – elections, political parties and so on – but what you cannot create is the underlying demos (the people) that is needed to bind democracy together. That is why you end up with the absurd situation in which voters are said to have “chosen” a leader they have never heard of.
    A pan-European democracy is a bad idea for the same reason a world democracy is a bad idea – the political unit is too large to make sense to voters. And before I am accused of a mystical attachment to “the nation”, I should add that not all nations are necessarily the right size to secure democratic assent. The case for Scottish independence rests on the idea that Scotland’s political identity is so different from the rest of the UK that the Scottish nation needs to break free from parliament in Westminster. We will see, in September’s referendum, if most Scots agree – but it is a legitimate question to ask.

    Supporters of a European federal state often argue that the reason ordinary Europeans do not identify with the parliament is that they are not electing a proper government with real powers. By claiming more powers for the parliament – such as the right to appoint the president of the commission – they hope to attract interest and so conjure a European demos into being.
    That argument reminds me strongly of the case that was once made for creating the euro. Back then, it was said that even if EU economies were very different the simple creation of a single currency would force them to converge. Now we are told that, even if there is no common European political identity, transferring powers to the European Parliament will drive the pace of political convergence. In reality, it would be likely to create a political disaster to rival the economic disaster caused by the euro – and for the same reason. Forced and artificial convergence cannot withstand the stress test of reality.

    Rather than store that debacle up for the future, it is important that the national leaders of the 28 member states of the EU take a stand now. Unlike the relative unknowns that populate the parliament in Brussels the national leaders are well-known at home, so have a genuine democratic mandate. That should give them the courage to face down the pretensions of the parliament and its standard-bearer, Mr Juncker, and choose their own candidate for commission president.

    Any such decision would, in turn, be likely to provoke months of confrontation between the parliament and national leaders in the European Council, and a stalemate over the commission presidency. So be it. In the interests of democracy, it is important to have that confrontation now.


    • Dean, this is a copyright violation you have posted here. It is not fair to implicate Yanis in your conduct, just because some idiot journalist writes things that you agree with. And you could at least name the author, instead of passing it off as your own.

    • @Dean
      I am seriously amazed at the amount of time you seem to have on your hands to post voluminous and frequent messages – most of which have very little to do with the price of tea in China if you get my drift – on this and any number of other discussion boards each and every day.

      If someone is hiring, please let me know where to send an application. I’m getting tired of putting in my 10 hrs/day and would look forward to a cushy job where I get paid to lambast everyone and everything under the sun.


    • It was very clear to me that Dean didn’t try to pass this off as his own writing but that it is a link to the Financial Times – even from reading the post on my phone. You probably need glasses! I know it is hard to accept at first, it took me a while myself before I went to the eye doctor. I still haven’t really gotten used to wearing them. But once you do, things will get clearer again!

    • Xenos:

      I never passed it as my own. If I wanted to pass it as my own why would I give the link to the article both at the top and at the bottom of the excerpt? Any reading of the article itself tells you that the content is not mine and in fact I am telling you precisely where it’s from.

      Where did you see any claim of authorship? It’s ideas we are debating and this fellow makes a clean and nice case.

    • Still-Another-Greek-Boy:

      I wasn’t aware that I was posting elsewhere.

      In any event the responses here take only a few minutes because by design this blog has a delay of about 24 hours in posting replies. If you say something and I reply to you and then you reply back to me perhaps 3 days have passed in the process. Therefore I think that the “enormous time” charge you are making is an illusion.

      What you really want to say – because others have said it before in various forms – is that you don’t really appreciate opposing opinions in a blog you consider friendly to your own ideology.

      That’s nice but then we have a thing called democracy.

    • @various
      First of all, my computer does not display FT articles because of computer protection that I am not prepared to remove in order to read their stuff. Therefore I cannot read the name of the author. The silly remarks about glasses are offensive, not least because I have serious eyesight defects anyway.

      Secondly, they explicitly do not permit you to post the content elsewhere, even with a link. It is a clear copyright violation because they have not put it on the web as creative commons or public domain but as their own FT copyright. If you do not understand copyright law and live in the USA, then I suggest you acquaint yourself with it. Greeks in Greece, of course, do not accept the concept of copyright and can be forgiven for their ignorance.

    • @Dean

      It doesn’t really concern me if you prefer to use different avatars for different blogs, put that doesn’t mean that you should assume that you are pulling the wool over our collective eyes with your talent for turning a pig’s ear into a silk purse. Your style and your anti-German, angst-filled tirades, whether signed Dean, or not are inimitable.

      As far as the the enormous time you spend posting (something you like to call an “illusion”) – by my -quick – counting on this thread alone you have made 18+ comments. Moreover you have commented (often posting multiple, long – very long, nay rambling long – posts) on every single article posted by Yannis in the past few weeks. Again, you’re free to continue to do so, but in my book, that’s more then a simple “illusion.”

      But like I said, more power to you if you have the time to do so – or if that’s your primary occupation. Onwards and upwards.

      Με φιλία

    • Guest (xenos)
      on June 4, 2014 at 17:09 said:
      “The silly remarks about glasses are offensive, not least because I have serious eyesight defects anyway.”

      Looks like I was right then. You don’t have to be embarrassed about having bad eyesight though. It’s very common, many people have to wear glasses – I have to wear glasses, now, too, and I understand how hard it is to get used to that.
      I don’t see what’s “offensive” about that though. It’s a very common thing and not exactly something particularly intimate – after all everyone can see if you wear glasses and many do. But I guess you could get contact lenses if you feel embarrassed about the glasses.
      So why not just admit that you misread Dean’s post and apologize rather than playing the offended victim? It’s not a big thing if you are a grown up. And you have a good excuse, too!

    • Xenos:

      In response to your “various” reply I have come to the conclusion that it’s best to withhold authors’ names from you. Invariably you end up attacking the person and not the idea. ( in other words you fail the Yanis’ promoted Voltaire test of defending free speech).

      Unless someone agrees with your ideology(which happens to be in the uber minority) the rest of the world is full of ignorant people. “Authors” according to you are either part of neo-lib think pools, or married to a neo lib or perhaps said hello to a neo-lib recently and as such completely contaminated.

      Labeling is an acute issue for you and you better rid yourself of such biases if you are to contribute to society.

    • @Michael
      Are you some sort of moron? I recovered from defective eyesight with operations, and can now see reasonably well. I am telling you not to make jokes. The reason I cannot see the author is that it is not displayed. It has nothing to do with my vision, idiot.

      @Dean, First of all, you do not answer my comment on your copyright violation. You make a silly slur about authorship, when it is very clear that I respond only to content. Secondly, on the status of institutions, you too show that you are a moron. The status of institutions is set in law, not by how another website describes it. Nor did I say that I am currently teaching. I informed you that I am not attached to an NGO, and that is legally and factually the case,

      Why you find it acceptable to accuse others of lying is beyond me. You have been doing that with Yanis, too. Kindly accept others’ statements as correct unless you have clear evidence that there is a lie being perpetrated.

  • Yani,

    Would it be possible to remove the troll? (If, in your judgment it is I who is the troll, then by all means remove me; still, I do not think I need to ‘name’ the contributor to whom I am referring when I ask you to remove ‘the troll’.)

    • There are a lot of trolls here, so it is not clear what you are talking about. Do you mean the obsessively pro-Greek trolls who know nothing of Greece, yet consider themselves experts on the country (as well as everything else)? Or do you mean the anti-EU trolls, who clearly are involved in sucking out money through banking and investment scams? Or do you mean the anti-Greek pro-German trolls (very few here) who think that German logic is universal and shared by all of Europe and the entire world?

  • Great article and so true:

    “Die aktuelle “Sparpolitik” der EU ist eigentlich gar keine – sie ist lediglich eine Rückkehr zu den Prinzipien des Maastricht-Vertrages aus dem Jahr 1992. Also genau zu jenem Stabilitätspakt, der eine Grundbedingung dafür war, dass Deutschland die Gemeinschaftswährung Euro überhaupt akzeptiert hat.”


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